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Cypress Grove (The Turner Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Salis writing is lean and tough, but beautiful. The story unfolds in its own time rather than powering between action scenes, but it is always moving and always riveting. Place plays a big role in the story and I am a big fan of a setting being a character, the rural American South having more character than most.
Cypress Grove has been a gateway for me into Southern/rural noir, from the similarly poetic Daniel Woodrell to the brutally intense Larry Brown. All great stuff and worthy of more exploration.
"Always sounds like he`s wrestling himself, squeezing notes out past some kind of physical or emotional obstruction. His voice stumbles, crawls and soars, always somehow at the very edge of what a voice is, what a man can feel."
If you`ve ever heard George Jones - and you really should - that`s as good an encapsulation of his voice as anyone will ever write. And boy, can this man write.
It`s not an odious comparison to speak of him in the same breath as another poet of the Deep South crime novel, James Lee Burke, though the latter is gaudier, more of a reveller in prose, whereas Sallis is pared down, more laconic, downbeat.
John Turner has been a cop, a convict, and (unlikely as it seems) a therapist. He has holed up in Nowheresville, Tennessee, not too far from his old stomping ground of Memphis. The affable local Sherriff co-opts him into helping the one-horse police department investigate a grotesque, somewhat baroque murder...
This superb novel is as much about a troubled, emotionally wounded man coming to terms with the world again and the people in it, as it is about a crime and its solution. We are taken back and forth in time, as Turner`s back-story unfolds - a device that works seamlessly - until the rather seedy denouement. (It would make an excellent film, especially given its lush, out-in-the-sticks setting.)
The writing evokes the atmosphere of place beautifully, with a genuine appreciation of the natural world and an obvious love of the southern ambience of the novel`s setting.
It isn`t often that you read a crime novel so lacking in authorial cynicism, with so many likeable characters. World-weary, yes; clear-eyed, too, but seldom cynical.
I enjoyed Drive (later a film with Ryan Gosling) a lot, and I liked this one even more. In fact, I don`t think I`ve been so excited by the discovery of an American writer since I first read Walter Mosley.
This is a wonderfully `physical` book. You can taste and feel it. And it`s followed by two more about Turner: Cripple Creek & Salt River. I can`t wait.
I enjoyed this book. The narrative style reminded me of In The Heat Of The Night and Ed McBain's writing - spare but descriptive and atmospheric with a relatively simple plot, although much more up to date, obviously. I liked the mixture of flashback and investigation as it kept me thinking.
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